Winter Depression

By | June 10, 2022

Especially in the cold months, winter depression is on everyone’s lips. Because more and more people are reacting with mental suffering to those times when sun and warmth are few and far between and gray sadness prevails. However, these symptoms are more likely to be assigned to temporary weather sensitivity and do not usually indicate winter depression.

What is winter depression?

Winter depression is a mental disorder. It is usually preceded by a lack of sunlight. In this respect, according to its name, the disease does not only occur in the cold season. Rather, winter depression can also be observed in autumn or spring. For definitions of hepatosplenomegaly, please visit

Even in a wet, cold and cloudy summer, its symptoms are sometimes noticed. In winter depression, the body reacts to the external circumstances and literally relates the foggy and rainy weather and the cloudy environment to its own soul.

In contrast, the winter depression is seasonally limited. The suffering usually alleviates itself when the warm months arrive. Nevertheless, winter depression should be examined by a doctor and, if necessary, accompanied by therapy.


The causes of winter depression have not been finally clarified. A change in the daily rhythm is often assumed here: Those who have had regular working hours for many years and suddenly work in different cycles often suffer from winter depression.

In other cases, the body produces less melatonin due to the lack of sunlight – the body can also react to this with tiredness, weakness or self-doubt in winter depression. For some people, however, the biorhythm works differently: They become less active in winter and feel the suffering even on minor occasions such as stress or problems.

Winter depression can therefore have different causes and should necessarily be treated by a doctor. Because only he can ultimately suggest the right therapy for winter depression.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Winter depression is a seasonally occurring depressive mood. It shows – usually in a weakened form – the typical symptoms of clinical depression. In contrast to clinical depression, however, winter depression is favored by a persistent lack of light in the dark season. Therefore, the symptoms disappear with the lighter months of the year. Nevertheless, the symptoms can be distressing and require treatment.

Depressive moods that can be traced back to difficult life situations, personal crises or acute problems are normal. The gloomy mind and accompanying behaviors, such as social withdrawal or lethargy, go away as the issues are resolved.

In the case of winter depression caused by a lack of light, accompanying symptoms such as lack of drive, lack of energy and imbalance can occur. Those affected have a depressed mood. They are often irritable and sleep poorly. Sometimes the social contacts are neglected, occasionally also the care for one’s own person. There may be an increased need for rest and sleep. The tiredness just won’t go away.

People affected by winter depression feel weak and depressed for weeks. If these symptoms lead to serious consequences, the person concerned should take appropriate countermeasures. Alternatively, he may consider going to the family doctor and requesting medical treatment. Most people are pretty good at recognizing the symptoms of their winter blues because it occurs every year.

Diagnosis & History

Winter depression usually shows up for the first time in the transitional phase between summer and autumn: the approaching dark period is registered with resentment. Tiredness prevails in those affected by winter depression, they shy away from leaving the house.

The person suffering from the disease reacts to the smallest of challenges with desperation and takes on tasks and duties less and less. At its worst, winter blues can lead to suicidal thoughts or even the execution of them. The person concerned sees no way out in all the literal darkness.

In this respect, the first symptoms of winter depression should already be registered. Because not only the patient himself, but also his entire environment feel the effects of winter depression.


Winter depression needs to be treated like any other depression. If the mental illness is not worked through and treated with medication, this can lead to the depression persisting into the spring and summer months. Those affected have an increased risk of developing severe depression.

This is usually associated with other psychological problems, and sufferers generally suffer from a reduced quality of life and a lack of well-being. Possible consequences are sleep disorders, which in turn lead to persistent exhaustion and worsen the mood. Sometimes suicidal thoughts occur, which in the worst case lead to a suicide attempt.

If those affected do not receive any support from relatives or doctors, chronic depression will develop in the long term with all its serious mental and physical consequences. Apart from the side effects of the medication administered, the treatment does not involve any major risks. However, talk therapy can lead to a short-term deterioration in mood and occasionally cause panic attacks.

Light therapy may increase the effects of antidepressants or antipsychotics. Headaches, reddening of the skin and burning eyes can also occur. In private use, an unsuitable device can cause serious eye damage.

When should you go to the doctor?

Since the symptoms of winter depression can vary in severity, it is often difficult for those affected to recognize when they should see a doctor or therapist. Depression is present when the symptoms last longer than two weeks. So this is a good time to see a doctor. However, medical advice may be advisable beforehand – for example, if severe symptoms such as suicidal tendencies occur.

Winter depression can impair performance at work and in everyday life. Because depression is a recognized illness, taking sick leave may be an option to reduce the psychological burden. The right contact person in this case is the general practitioner, as many of those affected would otherwise have to wait a long time for an appointment with a specialist or psychotherapist. In addition, a family doctor can rule out some other causes for the symptoms.

Winter depression does not always cross the line into major depression or dysthymia. However, even a milder depressive mood can be a personal burden. People who suffer from depressive moods (almost) every year or for long periods of time can therefore also consult a doctor or psychotherapist. In addition to treating acute symptoms, naturopaths, therapists and doctors can also help those affected to develop strategies to prevent winter depression.

Treatment & Therapy

Winter depression is treated with both drugs and talk therapy. In the latter case, the true causes are determined. It is not uncommon for winter depression to appear in people who suffer from fears or unfulfilled desires at a very early age. In addition, it is important to limit sensitivity to the weather using medicines.

On the one hand, this can be done by pouring out feelings of happiness, but on the other hand it can also be done by limiting negative perceptions. Especially with the weaker form of winter depression, it is advisable to visit the tanning salon once a week and to exercise more often in the fresh air. The first signs can already be treated with it.

If that is not enough, the winter depression must be accompanied by a doctor. Special light therapy can also be prescribed here. In severe cases, where there is a fear of suicide, inpatient treatment for winter depression is essential.

Ideally, the person affected should consult a doctor or psychologist at an early stage if the symptoms are constantly recurring, thus ensuring a gentle and rapid recovery from winter depression.


Winter depression can be prevented with a regular daily routine, sufficient exercise in the fresh air, sporting activities, a diet rich in vitamins and variety. Only when the body sinks into lethargy and self-pity is this approach no longer sufficient. Here, a medical assessment of the winter depression would be advisable in any case.


Winter depression is a seasonal affective disorder. It occurs in the winter months and is caused by the lack of light at this time of year. Follow-up care is only possible to a limited extent, as this form of depression subsides again in spring. In the course of follow-up care, however, a manifestation of the symptoms and thus the development of permanent depression can be prevented.

A winter depression is often treated by a psychotherapist aftercare. However, a general practitioner can also be consulted because depression is easy for general practitioners to diagnose. During follow-up care, the patient learns how to deal with the disease appropriately. In this case, the aftercare is ultimately a precaution: The medical consultation should begin in the autumn at the latest, before the winter depression develops.

Winter lack of sunlight lowers blood levels of vitamin D, which triggers or exacerbates winter blues. Taking vitamin supplements can counteract the deficiency. Red light irradiation can sometimes compensate for the lack of light.

In addition to winter depression, acute crisis situations can also occur. Should the condition of the person concerned deteriorate unexpectedly, the treating doctor is a suitable contact person. In such a situation, he can look after the patient professionally and intervene.

You can do that yourself

Depending on the extent and duration of winter depression, there may well be difficulties in coping with everyday life. In addition to medical treatment, however, those affected can actively contribute to an improvement in the symptoms themselves.

A healthy and balanced diet consisting of various vitamins, proteins, minerals and complex carbohydrates is important. Dishes made from fruit, vegetables, fish, chicken, legumes, nuts and potatoes are recommended . Highly sugary sweets and snacks with refined starches such as white flour should be avoided, especially during cravings. It is advisable to take high-dose vitamin D in the form of drops to support this.

Another self-help measure for winter depression is outdoor exercise. Those affected should get as much sunlight as possible. Half an hour of gardening or short walks can lead to a significant improvement in the condition. For elderly or disabled people, it is advisable to sit on the balcony or at the open window for a longer period of time. In principle, those affected by winter depression should try to be as active as possible and pursue various activities. Self-treatment using infrared lamps and light therapy lamps is also helpful for many patients. These lead to an improvement in symptoms, especially in acute cases.

Winter Depression